Note: Many venues and businesses may continue to maintain individual requirements for masking, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or a negative test for entry. Before heading out for any in-person event, confirm it is still taking place and check for any attendance guidelines on the relevant business websites or social media accounts.
DarRen Morris, May 2-27, UW Extension Pyle Center: “I did not know then that there were actual Black artists,” writes DarRen Morris in the artist statement on his website. Morris is currently in a Wisconsin maximum security prison, sentenced to life without parole at age 17. Morris says he was “party to the unintentional death of an innocent man. Although I was involved in this death, I am not a murderer.” In this show, Wisconsin Images: From Kenosha to Green Bay, expect to see works that showcase an artist who often must rely on memory and the imagination. Current hours at the Pyle Center are 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Overture Center 2022-23 season announcement, Monday, May 2, Overture Hall, 7 p.m.: As performing arts companies’ seasons wind down along with the school year, it’s time to start looking ahead and getting excited about what’s next. Once the summer fest-splosion is past, the 2022-23 season at Overture will come out to play. Learn what is in store at Overture Center in this annual program hosted by Tim Sauers and Karra Beach. It’s free to attend, and if you’re not quite ready to head back out yet, can be viewed on Overture’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
American Power, Prosperity & Democracy, Wednesday, May 4, Monona Terrace, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.: The La Follette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison hosts its annual La Follette Forum examining a trio of topics that all relate to the standing of the United States on the international stage. Speakers from the worlds of academia and business are joined by journalists Jamelle Bouie (of The New York Times) and Catherine Rampell (of The Washington Post, and the La Follette School’s spring journalist in residence). Find a detailed schedule and registration at lafollette-kohl.wisc.edu.
Suzanne Vega, Wednesday May 4, Stoughton Opera House, 7:30 p.m.: The Stoughton Opera House should be a perfect venue for what’s billed as “An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories with Suzanne Vega.” The folksinger has always focused on fine storytelling and defied categorization. Her latest album, An Evening of New York Songs and Stories, wouldn’t be mistaken for work from anybody else.
Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy, through May 8, Overture Center-Playhouse: Forward Theater Company will round out the 2021-22 performance season with Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy. Employees at the Internet Research Agency in Russia busily post disinformation aimed at Americans ahead of an election. The play, by Sarah Gancher, was named a New York Times Critics Pick, and takes a clever, comedic approach to telling the stories of the employees’ daily lives. This will be the first live stage production of the play, originally written as a virtual production. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, plus additional 2 p.m. matinees on April 30 and May 7.
Three Days Grace + Lilith Czar, Wednesday, May 4, The Sylvee, 8 p.m.: These angsty Canadian rockers are post-grunge veterans of the aughts, neatly slotting next to such contemporaries as Shinedown, Seether and Breaking Benjamin. Three Days Grace will land in Madison two days before their seventh studio album, Explosions, drops. Early singles “Neurotic” and “So Called Life” sound straight out of 2006. This date will mark the final one on which Lilith Czar will open. A contestant on Season 2 of NBC’s The Voice (where she performed as Juliet Nicole Simms), Lilith Czar is touring in support of 2021’s Created From Filth and Dust, which is chock-full of empowering anthems that bridge the gap between Alanis Morissette and Halestorm.
Madison’s Funniest Comic, Wednesdays, through May 4, Comedy on State, 9 p.m.: Take a deep dive into the pool of emerging comedians with the Madison’s Funniest Comic competition, returning after a pandemic hiatus year. The April preliminary rounds are complete, leaving only the finals on May 4. Showtime is 9 p.m., but the room fills up quickly so arriving closer to door time (7:30 p.m.) is a good idea. The lineup for the finals will be announced April 28 at facebook.com/comedyonstate.
High Noon Saloon Anniversary Party, Thursday, May 5, HNS, 5:30 p.m.: It feels as if it hasn’t been that long since the loss by fire of beloved club O’Cayz Corral and its rebirth a few blocks away as the brand new, purpose-built High Noon Saloon. Time flies. The High Noon has persevered through the pandemic and is now an “adult” at age 18; help celebrate with a cross-section of favorite Madison bands, kicking off with free tunes the patio by the inimitable honky tonkers Pupy Costello & the New Hiram Kings at 5:30 p.m. The party moves inside for a ticketed show starting at 7 p.m. and featuring Neil Young tribute Shakey, Bon Squad (with HNS founder Cathy Dethmers on bass), and Droids Attack.
The Unleashed Experience, Thursday, May 5, The Tinsmith, 5 p.m.: This event celebrates the release of a pair of projects from Amber Swenor, a Madison-based business strategist, marketing consultant and musician. On the business side is Swenor’s new book, Unleashed: A Been-There, Rocked-That Guide to Radical Authenticity in Life and Business. In music, Swenor is the lead singer for the melodic metal band Morningstar; their debut album, Between Your World and Mine, will also premiere as part of The Unleashed Experience, along with “a collection of curated experiences designed to help you connect mind, body and soul,” refreshments, and more. Find tickets here.
Geoffrey Brady + Friends, Thursday, May 5, Gates of Heaven, 7 p.m.: In a program titled “Cat Cartoons, Contemporary Compositions and Complaining,” all of these items will be provided courtesy of host Geoffrey Brady, percussionist and theremin wizard, with a little help from some friends: Michael Brenneis, Brennan Connors, Kia Karlen, Lisa Marine, Anna Purnell, David Spies and Kenny Stevenson. From among this lineup of musical all-stars the mighty Sockrates Sock Puppet Carnival of Morals and Logic will emerge, once again bringing to life its periodic dive into the Willy Street Co-op Reader’s letters section.
Madison Symphony Orchestra open rehearsal, Thursday, May 5, Overture Hall, 7 p.m.: It’s not every day the public is invited to attend a symphony orchestra rehearsal…and probably even rarer to get the chance to hear one featuring a guest as special as pianist Garrick Ohlsson. The internationally acclaimed artist will join the Madison Symphony Orchestra in rehearsing for the weekend’s all-Beethoven program; it’s free to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated. The official concerts also take place in Overture Hall, at 7:30 p.m., May 6; 8 p.m., May 7; and 2:30 p.m., May 8; find tickets here.
The Importance of Being Earnest, through May 14, Bartell Theatre: If you’re surprised at the continuing popularity of this farce, its author probably wouldn’t be. Oscar Wilde was ahead of his time when it came to gender roles and wise in the ways of hypocrisy. Both are ongoing concerns, even if the basic construction of The Importance of Being Earnest, a comedy about mistaken identities, could have come from Shakespeare’s workbook centuries earlier. Strollers Theatre is using “gender fluid” casting to make the story even more contemporary. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays (except for 2 p.m. on May 14), plus 2 p.m., May 1.
We hope it’s handy for you to find Picks grouped together in a single post. The individual Picks can still be found in the usual places online: collected here, and sprinkled throughout all the events.